I don’t even know how a telephone works. How your voice reached all the way from Alexandria, broke into shards and vibrations across satellites and radio and air – thin air – and comes back to me, returned and transformed.
I don’t understand the patience that takes.
Or anything about space time. Only that it curves, as they say.
They say that, don’t they? That we repeat ourselves. That we must. Until something changes. That we will go on and on, over the same itchy groove in the metaphorical vinyl, believing that certain things are right, and that somewhere or somehow or someone will, or simply desperate to find the one the answer the key –
because the hinge of our lives is this idea that there is a keyhole, a lock, a way.
I’m repeating all this about circles, about repetition, because it is part of how it works. It is what the universe is made of – the very one, the answer, the key, the door, the guilt –
The gestures, I mean: how frightened we are they will pass away but how this doesn’t make any sense. The split second between is going to happen and happened is nothing. So almost nothing. Because it’s the same gesture, always.
Your voice, I mean. I hear it like yesterday. And the heart of me, if you’d ask it, thinks
it will be there tomorrow.
And it will, except for this thing called Suddenly. Which might be change, or death, or both. The important thing to understand is the code, the gesture, how that goes on forever and always the same. You must understand this. Guilt, I mean. It curves space and time. It outlasts “time”, all that lie about uniqueness. Guilt goes out across a whole life span, makes of all men one man, all lovers one lover, every single time you go home just like the last fucking time but worse, maybe. Worse.
I don’t understand how the phone works, how your voice can reach me all the way from Alexandria. But that is the point, already: Alexandria. How I think of it as a spit of land between two lakes, hiding under the shelf of the the prairie, very nearly becoming west. Near the interstate is the Walmart and the Cub Foods and a liquor store. And you are there, always. But Alexandria is old as time, is a city out of the ancient world, a secret pearl on a strange northern corner of Africa.
I hear your voice and I feel the same gestures in me. The turning away. The asking, over my shoulder,
does this look alright?
Alexandria. You have to understand that guilt works that way. A map that has been folded too many times. The folding. It will fall into place and guide your hands in the folding. Of it’s own grain and warp and woof.
It might tear, at the creases. That is one kind of suddenly.
Some of us get sober that way. Some of us do suddenly by flying. Some pray. It doesn’t matter. There was guilt, and then suddenly.
Suddenly, the pattern changed.
I’ll always see you, that red flannel, the snow, the lake, the summers, in Alexandria. But that isn’t Alexandria. That is me. I’m sorry, I could say. And suddenly visit Alexandria, Vermont. Or Alexandria, Virginia. Louisiana. I can go to Egypt, suddenly, for the cost of a prayer. A whisper. An apology.